Born in Brooklyn, raised in France. When he was six years old, his family moved back to New York and Claude immersed himself in the traditional classical piano curriculum of private lessons, practice and recitals.
As he was growing up, with the impact of artists like Jimi Hendrix playing in the Village, Humble Pie at the Fillmore and Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden, Claude discovered rock 'n’ roll. He maintained the discipline of his Classical studies, he also began playing in a wide assortment of bands.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles in the early 80s, it wasn't long before Claude's virtuoso talents were in high demand. He formed two promising bands, Magic! and Rough Cutt.
By 1983, Claude's musical diligence and precision had earned him a reputation as one of L.A.'s most serious and well-respected players. Claude Schnell joined Dio in May 1983. Claude Schnell first played with Dio on the Holy Diver tour, though he didn't play on the album itself.
After almost seven years in that band, Claude chose to redefine his artistic focus, and embark upon his own musical odyssey. Around Autumn 1993 he was supposedly playing in some bars and restaurants in San Francisco with some band of his own.